Monday, June 21, 2021

Guardiola reflects on Manchester City’s journey after reaching Champions League final

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tiamin rice

Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City’s ultimate target is now in sight after guiding the club to their first UEFA Champions League final.

Manchester City produced a stunning performance against Paris St-Germain, PSG, on Tuesday to book their place in European club football’s showpiece event in Istanbul on May 29.

Riyad Mahrez scored in each half as Manchester City won 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium to complete a 4-1 aggregate triumph in their semi-final.

Reaching the final has been a chief aim of the club ever since their take-over by Sheikh Mansour began their accelerated ascent to the game’s top table in 2008.

Guardiola has overseen the past five years of that journey, winning seven other trophies along the way, and he feels the club’s trajectory is now clear for all to see.

“I think reaching the final of the UEFA Champions League helps us to make the bigger picture,” said the Manchester City manager.

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The Spaniard’s past success in the competition with FC Barcelona made him a target for the club years before he was finally appointed in 2016.

“What we have done in these four years is incredible, in terms of the Premier League, Carabao Cup, FA Cups, every competition we have played. But reaching the final helps us to understand what we have done.

“Reaching the final in this competition is so difficult. It’s the toughest because of quality of opponents, the composure you have to have, the suffering in toughest moments.

“We did it, we made an incredible Champions League season. We deserve to be there and we are going to play the final.”

PSG were weakened by the absence of star striker Kylian Mbappe from their starting line-up due to injury.

But they still hit Manchester City with a barrage of pressure as they looked to overturn their first-leg deficit.

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Yet Manchester City withstood everything on a pitch unexpectedly covered in ice after a heavy hailstorm before kick-off.

They snatched the lead through Mahrez on 11 minutes after a quick break initiated by Ederson and then doubled their advantage through the same player just after the hour.

The Algerian was grabbing his third goal of the tie.

PSG then crumbled, with Angel Di Maria sent off and three other players booked in a petulant, ill-disciplined finale.

Defender Kyle Walker felt victory was the least Manchester City deserved for an outstanding performance in what has been an extraordinary season for the club.

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The Carabao Cup was won last month and the Premier League title is set to follow, possibly this weekend.

Walker said: “We still need to finish the job in Istanbul, but it is the icing on the cake so far this season.

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“Obviously we have an important game at the weekend against Chelsea, but we need to enjoy this moment. It doesn’t come around often.

“I can assure you that, I have been trying a number of years to get to the final. We have finally got there and it is full credit to everyone.

“I think this club needed this final, the players needed this final.

“I’ve said it numerous times, with the amount of talent we have got in the dressing room, for us not to be in the Champions League final is a disappointment every year.

“For us to finally get there is fantastic and it’s down to all the hard work, not just from the players but everyone surrounding the club.

“We’ve finally got there and hopefully we can do Manchester City proud.”

dpa/NAN

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